About the Three Peaks Yacht Race
Teams of four or five per yacht sail from Barmouth to Fort William, with two of the crew climbing the highest mountains of Wales, England and Scotland en route, running the equivalent of three marathons in 3 or 4 days. A unique feature of the race is that rowing is allowed, and over the years, many teams have been known to row during light airs and periods of calm. Back up support teams can meet the teams on land but are restricted in what support they can give.
Barmouth to Caernarfon
The first leg starts from Barmouth, yachts sail approximately 62 sea miles, past Bardsey Island and the Lleyn Peninsula, over Caernarfon Bar and into Caernarfon. The runners set off to the summit of Snowdon via the Mountain Ranger Path and return via Llanberis, a distance of 24 miles.
Caernarfon to Whitehaven
Here crews can opt to sail around the isle of Anglesey or continue, under sail only, through the Menai Straits. This has been an interesting decision for some skippers to make in previous years. After a further sail of approximately 100 sea miles yachts arrive at the marina in Whitehaven. This is the longest land leg of the race, the distance to Scafell Pike and back being some 40 miles, so bicycles are allowed for the first part. The ride is via a cycle path and forestry track. Racers leave bikes at Black Sail Youth Hostel before crossing Black Sail Pass to Wasdale Head and climbing Scafell Pike then returning to their yacht via the same route.
Whitehaven to Fort William
This sailing leg is a distance of approximately 227 sea miles rounding the Mull of Kintyre and into the Sound of Jura, through some of the most beautiful scenery but with many tidal gates to negotiate. The race finishes just north of Fort William at Corpach, the entrance to the Caledonian Canal. The runners set off to the summit of Ben Nevis and return to Corpach to cross the finish line.
2015—Team Wight Rose—Reflex 38 Geoff West West—owner of Reflex Lightning, experienced 3 Peaker. Gary Clayton –experienced 3 Peaker and, for his advancing years, a surprisingly nimble fore deck. Paul Jackson –experienced racing sailor but first 3 Peaks. Shelf (Stu Walker) –Runner who has also been part of Wild Spirit Fastnet team, 2nd Three Peaks. Alex Pilkington – Runner , 2nd Three Peaks.
Report A windy first leg from Barmouth up to Caernarfon saw us tacking very close inshore of rocks through Bardsey Sound to catch the tidal eddies. A mistake as we reached the sand bar across the entrance to the Menai Straits costs us about 15 minutes. This plus a couple of other minor errors put us half an hour behind a strong Dutch team on a faster boat but Alex and Shelf our 2 runners pulled this back on the Snowdon ascent.
The second leg up to Whitehaven saw us start sailing just ahead of the Dutch on Rio, but they managed to pass us in the Swellies as we hit a wind hole under a bridge in the notoriously difficult Menai Straits. For a while it was neck and neck, then they pulled away but as the seas increased and wind topped 30 knots they broached a couple of times, ripped a spinnaker and slowed down. The advantage of our symmetric spinnaker became apparent as we neared Whitehaven, the wind dropped and with light following breezes and we were first in through the lock.
Despite being one of the few teams without a support team . . . → Read More: 3 Peaks Yacht Race–Silverware